Doing my best to save on energy use
Published 09/11/2011 | 06:00
The recent change of the clocks showed up the blown bulbs and dirty fluorescent covers around the yard and on the tractor. I've since spent a bit of time checking and replacing bulbs.
Having adequate lighting is necessary but paying for it is another thing. The electricity bill isn't getting any cheaper. I took a good look at my last bill, which covered a two-month period from mid-August. My bill for the farm worked out at €8.80/day. This is an accurate figure as the farm is metered separately. On the amount of milk produced in that period, it equates to 0.013c/l. On the day rate I used 2,138kWh. On the night rate I used 1,094kWh. I can never remember the night rate hours but something tells me they don't suit fully the typical milking times. When I am selecting a milk tank or indeed any electrical item, energy efficiency will be considered.
There is a need on all our farms to do an energy audit on our use and how we can save power. Water usage is another cost on my farm, running at around €2/day. I have made better savings here, with a natural spring and two 4ft liners supplying water to the slatted sheds all winter. It also supplies the washing down of the parlour all year.
In longer dry spells, it can dry up. It is gravity flow so I have no bother with pumps. I was often tempted to add more liners but was advised that I could interfere with the natural spring. The spring has now been used for more than 50 years. One of my new year's resolutions will be to become more efficient with power and water.
The recent heavy rains have left it very challenging for grazing. The cows were housed by night on October 15. They were still out by day on October 31. They were brought in full-time for a few days during the very wet weather but were happy to go out again.
With the weather so mild, grass continues to grow. I will finish up grazing the milking platform by November 12. A total of 80pc of it was grazed by the cows, with the rest of it being grazed by weanlings. Paddocks closed since October 6 are very green but I will resist running over them again. I know I will suffer in the spring.
Over the past few weeks, cows were being grazed for three hours each day, directly after morning milking. This is a task in itself as you do have to be around the farm to get them in. If you missed them for even 15-30 minutes, you could have a black paddock afterwards. I reckon I have grazed 230 days this year since March 1.
All in-calf animals were housed by the end of last month. Weanlings and eight maiden heifers are still out and will stay there for most of this month. The weanlings are getting 2-3kg of a 20pc heifer rearing nut.